Skin ulcers are open sores that are often accompanied by the sloughing off (shedding) of inflamed tissue. Skin ulcers can be caused by a variety of events, such as trauma, exposure to extreme temperatures or corrosive material, or problems with blood circulation.
Venous leg ulcers are the most common type of skin ulcer. They mainly occur just above the ankle. They usually affect older people and are more common in women. About one out of 50 people develop a venous leg ulcer at some stage in their lives. Venous leg ulcers are usually painless, but they may cause pain in some cases. Without treatment, an ulcer may become larger and cause problems in the leg, such as infection.
Pressure ulcers, also known as decubitus ulcers or bedsores, are skin ulcers that develop on areas of the body where the blood supply has been reduced because of prolonged pressure. Pressure ulcers may occur in people confined to bed or a chair, or in those who must wear a hard brace or plaster cast. Skin ulcers may become infected, which may lead to complications such as sepsis (infection in the blood).
Other health conditions that can cause skin ulcers include chronic venous insufficiency, diabetes, infections, and a disease of the blood vessels that supply the blood to the limbs called peripheral vascular disease.
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